Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

A new modi of protesting

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner
5 February 2021

Good morning,

Rihanna is an unlikely news source for agricultural developments in the northern provinces of India. But this week, she was just that.

Several hundred thousand farmers have been camped on the outskirts of Delhi since November. It’s a movement known as Delhi Chalo (“Let’s go to Delhi”) and they’re protesting three new laws that they believe will leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

The tensions are escalating, the strikes have been damaging and, last week, long convoys of tractors made a beeline for Delhi’s Red Fort and raised the farmers’ union flag.

It came to a head at that point, when peaceful protests descended into violence. A number of farmers died, hundreds were detained and police were at points nearly crushed by dangerously driven tractors.

In response, the police started building trenches around the camps, created concrete barriers, strung up barbed wire and suspended internet access. The farmers feel they are being treated like criminals.

But pouring water on these fires is fast becoming a bit of a flood. The farmers, the internet, the press attacks on anyone who covers it, the condemnation of foreign popstars.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn’t taken kindly to criticism of his modernisation plans.

His government has criticised climate activist Greta Thunberg, as well as the Barbadian popstar, for their “irresponsible” and “rushed” interventions. India’s foreign ministry suggested these were “vested interest groups” and yesterday supporters of the ruling party were so incensed by the attention that they burned photos of Thunberg and Rihanna in the streets.

But just as we’ve seen in Russia, Ukraine and America this year, baton-ing your way through a crowd isn’t a surefire route out of a crisis.

The government vs. celebrity showdown is a lesson for everyone that it’s worth speaking up and a warning for governments that changemakers can come in unlikely but inspiring forms.

Take Marcus Rashford and his fight to feed hungry schoolchildren or the recent appointment of A&E doctor and ex-love island contestant, Alex George, as the government’s ambassador for mental health in the wake of the tragic death of his younger brother.

Each of these people has driven millions of eyes to their respective issues. They’re using their platforms to highlight injustice or uprising at a time when we’re barely off our screens.

We invite them – as Rihanna once sang – to take a bow for their contribution. As for the troubles in India, we can only hope this particular show is coming to an end, and soon.

News

Crosshouse hospital in Kilmarnock was locked down last night as police dealt with three serious, potentially linked, incidents in the Kilmarnock area. The hospital is no longer locked down but not much else is known at this stage.

The UK government has announced UK residents returning from virus hotspots around the world will have to spend ten nights in quarantine hotels from 15 February. Labour shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said it is “beyond comprehension” the measures were being brought in so late.

Anger about the slow EU vaccine programme spilled over in Germany yesterday with the country’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, branding the strategy “really s**t”. EU member states have now given first doses to around 3% of the population, compared to 15% in Britain and 10% in the US. (£)

court in Virginia has been told that Anne Sacoolas, the woman who killed 19 year old Harry Dunn two summers ago before fleeing to the US, was working for an American intelligence agency at the time. Downing Street has stated it did not know that she was in Britain in that capacity. Sacoolas has claimed this played a role in her swift exit from the UK.

Business and economy

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has voted to keep interest rates at 0.1%, but given the sector a six-month deadline in a step closer to introducing negative interest rates for the first time. Minutes of the meeting showed officials were split over whether to ask lenders to put in place measures needed to facilitate negative rates on loans and mortgages. The Bank’s quantitative easing bond-buying programme remains unchanged at £895bn. The Bank expects growth to bounce back as the vaccine programme takes effect.

451 one leading figures across the British fashion industry, including Twiggy and the British Fashion Council chief executive, have penned an open letter to the Prime Minister asking the government to devise solutions to save the sector in the wake of Brexit. They say the £35bn industry, which employs close to a million people, is at risk of “decimation”. Industry body Walpole reports that 42% of British luxury goods are exported to the EU and estimates current changes will cost “multiple millions per year”. (£)

At least 30 ports and airports around the UK are considering submitting bids for to become one of 10 new freeports. Part of the Prime Minister’s new levelling up agenda, these freeports would aim to tackle regional inequality because, as special economic zones, they would benefit from lower taxes. Bids have to be submitted by today and the winners will be announced in the spring. Eight Scottish ports have been earmarked by lobby groups as potential candidates. (£)

Columns of note

James Forsyth argues in The Times that Britain’s schools need a revolution to recover from covid. He ponders how the PM will be able to level up a lost generation and voices worries that we’ll only be able to guess “how deep the educational damage runs”. As solutions he offers up: an extended school day, five-term school years, shorter summer holidays and a long-term tutoring programme.

Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian that the abuse targeted at Chris Whitty is a symptom of social media being out of control. He suggests that debate rests on the premise it is disciplined by ethics and the failure to regulate tech properly is the “greatest mistake of our age”. He describes the evolution of newspapers to conform with journalistic ethics and regulation and brands it “baffling and frightening” that social media continues to sidestep those norms.

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed on Thursday with the FTSE 100 down 0.06% at 6,503.72, while the FTSE 250 was 0.27% higher at 20,809.30. Sterling was 0.12% stronger than the dollar at $1.37 and the euro by 0.63% at €1.14.

US stocks rose for the fourth consecutive day yesterday, as investors looked for signs of progress on a stimulus from the new administration. The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq were both up 0.9%.
 
In company news: 
  
Catering firm, Compass Group, gained 4.45% in equity markets after apologising to shareholders for substandard free school meal packages. Its revenue fell by a third in the last quarter and no pickup is expected in the first three months of this year either.
 
Barratt Developments rose 2.21% after stating that pre-tax profit for H2 2020 edged higher amid record completions.
 
BT Group lost 3.22% after stating it was on track to meet its full-year forecasts (to March 2021), despite the fall in its third quarter core earnings.
 
Unilever reported a decline in annual profit caused mainly by currency swings and fell 5.82%. The company did however increase its Q4 2020 dividend.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Beazley

AGMs
Abstd Equityinc
Brewin Dolphin
Cerillion
Countryside Properties
Egdon Resources
On The Beach

EGMs
Bk. Cyprus Hldg
Hipgnosis Song.
Smurfit Kappa
Total Produce

Final Dividend Payment Date
Aj Bell
Barings Emerg.
Daily Mail
Hend.eur.focus
UDG Healthcare

Interim Dividend Payment Date
Aveva Group
Crystal Amber
Experian
Halma
Jpmorgan Multi.
Qinetiq
Twentyfour Inc
Uk Mortgages
Vodafone

Quarterly Payment Date
BMO UK High Income Trust

Special Divident Payment Date
Best
BMO UK High Income Trust B
Ienergizer

UK economic announcements
(08:30) Halifax House Price Index 

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Factory Orders (GER) 
(13:30) Unemployment Rate (US) 
(13:30) Non-Farm Payrolls (US) 
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US) 

Source: Financial Times

did you know

In India, every election season officials in Gujarat set up a polling station for just one man – temple priest, Mahant Bharatdas Bapu. He is the sole resident of the Gir Forest sanctuary. Last election 5 polling officers travelled 70km inside the forest to set up the voting booth.  (source: Economic Times) 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

No business scheduled.

House of Lords 

No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled.

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